Today I went shopping. Anyone who knows me will know that I buy a lot of my clothing from Goodwill. I have a very basic, very simple style, if you can even call it a style. I work in a place where I frequently climb ladders and generally do a lot of up-and-down work. I need clothes that are practical and don’t get in my way. I need a place to clip my badge and a pocket for my phone. To that end, I wear jeans and sweaters in the winter, and jeans and t-shirts in the summer, and jeans and t-shirts and cardigans in the shoulder seasons (let’s face it: all of winter in Seattle is really more like fall everywhere else). I really like dresses and skirts, and if they’re the right length and/or I have leggings, I can manage them at work. But they sometimes still get in my way.
I am also a sucker for bargains. I go on a lot of day trips and plan a lot of larger adventures, and part of the reason I’m financially able to do so is by spending very little money on my clothing. It’s a conscious, very personal choice that prioritizes what I want and like most. I love being able to buy new, cute things and not damage my budget for travel or food.
In line with both of those, I haven’t bought a brand-new pair of jeans since at least 2010. Shopping at Goodwill has allowed me to try out different styles and figure out just what fits me. I’m short but I have hips. Turns out Forever21 skinny jeans and Gap 1969 Perfect Boot-Cut Jeans are perfect for me. After buying a pair several months ago and really loving them, I thought briefly about investing in a brand-new pair. I checked online and quickly decided not – the Gap Jeans retail for $70ish.
So I went back to Goodwill and bought two more pairs. The turnover rate here is great compared to stores at home, and I was able to find more of the same style without a problem. It’s true that sometimes I buy a pair that don’t fit amazingly, and they sit in my drawer for a few months before I donate them. But let’s quickly do the math: I own 9 pairs of jeans right now. At a (maximum) $8 per pair, I’ve spent barely over what one pair would cost new. And even when I buy a pair I don’t end up wearing, the money I’ve lost is a) minimal, and b) still goes to a good cause. Win-win.
In any case, today I went in while waiting for the bus and – surprise! – ended up with several things. I bought a blue skirt, some workout gear, and a pretty green dress that I totally adore. This evening the idea struck me to go through my wardrobe and determine how much is from Goodwill and how much was bought new.
Besides the jeans, all 6 skirts I own are from Goodwill, and 7 of the 12 dresses. My only blazer and my two pairs of dress pants, and all my activewear (yoga pants, shorts, etc., which really act as pajamas for me, because let’s face it, I don’t exercise). 2 of my 3 pairs of shorts are from Goodwill.
Bought new I have 12 sweaters (oy, that’s a lot. In my defense, 6 of them were Christmas gifts.) All my cardigans except one, and 11 of my 14 shirts were new. All my tank tops (H&M basic line) and t-shirts (which are from Athens, Florence, high school, Potsdam, and my Harry Potter one) are new. And my leggings. Also five dresses. My lovely mother bought me two last summer to wear to weddings, and I got one for a steal ($7) at H&M because of a tear, and then sewed it up. The other two are over four years old.
Clearly buying bottoms from Goodwill is working better for me that buying tops. I probably should note that I tend to buy one style top in three or four different colors. I just can’t be bothered to try things on more than once. In any case for me it was a really fascinating study of my wardrobe & consumer habits for clothing.